Irish Christian Brothers Plead to RIP

CNS headlined this brief piece on the Irish Christian Brothers. I have some history with the order, having attended a high school that was half-run (the boys’ side) by them.

My subjective experience there was pretty straightforward. I thought two of my teachers from the order were outstanding: a fill-in for a quickly-departed brother midway through my freshman year, and my physics teacher senior year. Otherwise, it was an open secret among students that the ICB faculty was rife with scandal and incompetence. It was an open joke that faculty had at least two affairs with girl students on the other side of the building. I recall two or three teachers being outright weird–people to be avoided. In grade 12 religion once we had an interesting exercise. The teacher divided us up into groups of five or six, and wrote the word “penis” on the blackboard. Each group had one class period to surface the most synonyms. For the group with most synonyms, a box of candy bars was awarded. This was repeated the next day for a word of the female anatomy.

On the plus side, they did assemble a good-to-great faculty of lay people–about half my teachers overall. One teacher shared with us his salary: $8100. Not much for 1973. But he was a dedicated educator, teaching both ninth grade history and a few senior electives.

Brother Philip Pinto told Catholic News Service May 7 that the congregation, which has 1,200 members, “just doesn’t have the money any longer.”

He said that the order’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection in New York April 28 was aimed at “trying to ensure that people who have been abused are the ones who get the money, not the lawyers,” he said during a break in a conference on religious life sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland.

Forty percent of the costs relating to abuse settlements were “going to the lawyers,” he said.

One-third is about right from I hear from people who hire lawyers to sue. A heck of a lot more than $8100, adjusted for inflation. If you want 100% of your settlement money to go to victims, you have to offer it before the legal system gets a grip on the situation.

Another conference speaker, Nuala O’Loan, former police ombudsman in Northern Ireland … criticized “successive Irish governments” who “allowed the children under their care to be deprived of their safety and security and permitted children to be held in institutions in which terrible things happened.”

Discerning readers should have a nose for sniffing out the blame game. Ms O’Loan’s comment needs a context, to be sure. But I sure hope it’s not something along the lines of “They should have known better leaving kids in the care of predators.”

So what do you readers think? Edmund Rice’s order dead in the water? If so, is that a bad thing?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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8 Responses to Irish Christian Brothers Plead to RIP

  1. David D. says:

    “He said that the order’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection in New York April 28 was aimed at “trying to ensure that people who have been abused are the ones who get the money, not the lawyers,” he said during a break in a conference on religious life sponsored by the Conference of Religious of Ireland.”

    Not exactly. A few months back the WSJ published a list of lawyers whose hourly rates now surpass the $1K mark:

    Although perhaps over represented on this list due to the public nature of bankruptcy attorneys’ fees, the bankruptcy bar is well-represented nonetheless. Believe me, the lawyers will get paid.

  2. David D. says:

    It also bears mention that the plaintiffs’ attorneys still collect their fees on any settlements reached during the bankruptcy.

  3. Eb Hurley says:

    High School rememberances often lend scandal to the weak.

  4. richard kearney says:

    I spent about 12 years under the Irish Christian Brothers in Mount Cashel in St John’s Newfoundland.I did not seek any lawyer but the Irish Christian Brothers never bothered to contact me.Proof one needs a lawyer .I am 70 years old and the Irish Christian Brothers know what I went through from 1947 to 1957;Hell.

  5. The Christian Brothers probably started out with good intentions but became corrupted when it turned into a haven for pedophiles not all but way too many. The Brothers knew about the diseased among them and continued to hide and protect these evil men. The Irish Government covered up for these perverts aiding and abetting their ilk. I too was in Mount Cashel for five and one half years plus as a ward of the Newfoundland Government the abuse committed upon my person by these devils was ignored and this Government to this day fights my claim against them as my guardian.

  6. son of ireland says:

    the religious order of irish christian brothers should be classed as a legally corrupt criminal enterprize and all thier assets siezed and paid to the child victims of their crimes,sexual beatings and food and clothing and shelter depravations.god knows its a small payment for the pain shame and hurt caused to the innnocent children.thank you canada for exposing this paedophile and sexual deviant criminal could ireland allow and indeed finance and protect this criminal gang for so many years.could canadian and usa victims sue the irish government for pain and suffering caused by their teachers”???

  7. rhamilton says:

    I’m thinking of becoming an Irish Christian Brother, I think the original concept of educating those who otherwise could not afford education is a good one. Clearly for many years there was huge amounts of sexual abuse and violence towards children. I’m interested to know what those of you who encountered the Christian Brother, for good or ill, consider of my vocation considerations. Do you deem it preferable for the Irish Christian Brothers to become extinct or for them to continue in existence. In one sense it could be argued that joining the order could be deemed as ignoring the abuse perpetrated on children, I think however that no sane, reasonably intelligent person could ignore such widely reported abuse. On the other hand if the Irish Christian Brothers die out then the recollection of their horrors may die with then? I also think the when the Irish Christian Brothers was originally founded, it wasn’t setup as a cabal with the view to inflicting the maximum amount of hurt on children and so it must have changed somewhere along the line, the question is, is it repairable? Does anyone have any comments?

    • Todd says:

      Only a spiritual director is well-placed to discern this with you. The truth is that it is a baptismal call to form people in the faith; it is part of my responsibility as a parent.

      Many religious orders have the apostolate of teaching the poor. If you are drawn to this ministry, this way of serving, how much is it tied in with the charism of the particular order you are considering? How much is it just a discernment of your gifts and how God is leading you to serve, rather than with whom you will serve?

      And if you are discerning a place in this particular order, then it would seem important to pay careful attention during visits, weekends, and your postulancy period to assess if it is a true calling.

      Who knows? Maybe you are the leader who will reform the whole order.

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